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Supreme Court blocks Wisconsin voter ID law

By Lawrence Hurley Reuters WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday blocked a new voter identification law in Wisconsin from going into effect. The nine-justice court, with three conservative members dissenting, granted a last-minute requ...

By Lawrence Hurley

Reuters

 

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday blocked a new voter identification law in Wisconsin from going into effect.

The nine-justice court, with three conservative members dissenting, granted a last-minute request by civil rights groups seeking to block an appeals court ruling that the law could be implemented.

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The high court's action means the new law, which requires voters to present photo identification when they cast ballots, will not be in effect in the lead-up to the November elections.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups said the law would sow confusion at the polls and reduce votes.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote a brief dissenting opinion, which was joined by fellow conservatives Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

He wrote that although it was "particularly troubling" that absentee ballots had been sent out before the November election without notifying voters of the identification requirements, there was still no legal justification for blocking the law.

Wisconsin's is one of several similar voter ID rules that have become a political and racial flashpoint across the United States. Wisconsin and other states have argued they need such rules to prevent voter fraud.

A federal judge enjoined the state's voter ID law in March 2012 shortly after it took effect and entered a permanent injunction in April, finding it would deter or prevent a substantial number of voters who lack photo identification from casting ballots and place an unnecessary burden on the poor and minorities.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the decision and subsequently ruled on Monday that the law was constitutional. Wisconsin's Supreme Court upheld the voter ID law in a separate ruling.

The Supreme Court's move came after it twice in the past week allowed voting restrictions to take effect in North Carolina and Ohio. In those cases, liberal justices objected.

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